Sarah Thomas' hiring for the 2015 season is a notable bright spot for the NFL.
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Considering it’s a fourth preseason game, the Giants and Patriots will get a lot of attention tonight at Gillette Stadium.
Sarah Thomas, the NFL’s first full-time official, will serve as a line judge.
Oh yeah, Patriots fans get to greet Tom Brady fresh off his Deflategate victory.
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The NFL sure could use some good publicity. The league didn’t seriously address domestic violence until it had to. Now, at least, the league is opening a new professional door for women. By doing so it’s increasing the officiating talent pool, and that certainly can’t hurt considering some of the officiating debacles we’ve seen.
Years ago it would have been unthinkable for a woman to work as an official in an NFL game. But Thomas has worked her way up for 20 years, starting in the college ranks. She became the first female official to work a bowl game.
Thomas, born in 1973, has worked preseason games before and also worked with teams at practice. She’s spent a lot of time with the New Orleans Saints in particular because she lives in Mississippi. She’s appeared at Saints OTAs and minicamp as far back as 2006.
So this is no PR stunt by the NFL. Thomas has paid her dues.
“We’ve watched her grow and she’s going to be outstanding,” Saints coach Sean Payton told The Times-Picayune.
The NFL has had a better spring and summer than 2014 when it comes to the treatment of women. Jen Welter became the first female on an NFL coaching staff when she served as an intern during the preseason with the Arizona Cardinals.
There will be a lot of fawning over Brady tonight at Gillette Stadium, even if he’s not wearing pads and doesn’t go anywhere near the field. Many of the fans probably won’t even notice Thomas on the field.
If a official isn’t noticed, that means he or she is doing the job well.